Atmospheric Pressure and Wind Animations

Compiled by Mark Francek (more info) at Central Michigan University (more info)

Find animations for global wind patterns, global atmospheric circulation, coriolis effect, and sea and land breezes.

Click here to browse the complete set of Visualization Collections.

Sea and Land Breezes, Exploring Earth (more info) This Flash animation depicts the diurnal change in wind patterns along the coast. The shift in winds results from unequal heating of the land and water. During the day, land heats more rapidly than the water, air rises, and a cool breeze blows in from the water. The pattern reverses at night. The strength of the animation is that temperature values can be compared throughout the day and then linked to wind patterns. It would be nice if pressure patterns were also superimposed. The animation can be paused and rewound to stress important points.

Coriolis Force Model ( This site may be offline. ) This VPython model of the coriolis force is interactive and allows users to change parameters, modeling the motion of a marble fired across a rotating turntable. The motion can be viewed as an animated GIF on the webpage, or the VPython program can be downloaded to provide finer control of the variables that influence the effects of the coriolis force.

Coriolis Effect over Earth's Surface, Exploring Earth ( This site may be offline. ) Find a Flash animation for the Coriolis Effect, the apparent deflection of a wind or current due to earth rotation. One animation shows a plane flying from Anchorage, Alaska toward Miami, Florida. In the second animation, a plane takes off from Tierra del Fuego toward Rio de Janeiro. In both cases, the pilots would miss their destination because the targets moved in respect to the original straight line path of the plane. For the northern hemisphere the plane would end up to the right of the target, to the left, for the southern hemisphere. The animation can be paused and rewound to stress important points.

Coriolis Effect on Isobar Map, Exploring Earth ( This site may be offline. ) This Flash animation complements "Coriolis Effect over Earth's Surface" animation by placing the Coriolis Effect in the context of everyday weather patterns. The predicted wind aloft should be from the southeast but because of the Coriolis Effect the wind is actually southwest. The animation of atmospheric motion over the northern Pacific Ocean for a 36-hour period can be paused and rewound to stress important points.

Global Atmospheric Circulation Movie, Wiley (more info) The QuickTime movie with accompanying audio explains the earth's global circulation pattern in terms of the unequal heating of the earth. The formation of Hadley cells, polar front, and Rossby Waves is also discussed. Expect long loading times.